Have you ever wondered who created that big shiny yucca sculpture that sits along I-40 as you enter Albuquerque from the east? Have you ever stopped to ponder when Cruising San Mateo - the 1950s car atop the arch that's covered in green and blue tiles - was installed? Hasn't it always just been there?
Or maybe you drive, walk, or bike past several public artworks throughout your day and never even notice them.
The Albuquerque Public Art Collection holds well over 800 artworks (we've been commissioning artworks since 1978!) that have been funded by the Art in Municipal Places Ordinance and placed throughout our city. Each one tells a story, and each one is unique. And now, each one is also digitally mapped on the newly live Albuquerque Public Art App, easily accessible by all with an iPhone. (An Android version of the app is coming soon)
When I started working with the Albuquerque Public Art Program almost four years ago, my first task was to update our database of artworks. It took me a few months to enter and organize all the data but the process allowed me to really get to know the collection, without even having to see the artwork in person. Two years later, while creating a public art strategic plan, my colleagues and I created a survey for residents of and visitors to Albuquerque to gather input for future public art projects. 76% of Albuquerque residents said they would use a public art app if it existed.
Now, if you are interested in finding artworks in your neighborhood, or finding out who created that mural on the side of the South Broadway Cultural Center, or when that bronze lion was installed at the zoo, you can pull up the information right on your phone. The app makes it easy to get to know your public art collection from the comfort of your own home or out and about in the community.
Lioness and Cubs, Una Hanbury, 1984
The app also offers users the option to check in at the artworks they've visited, send in photos of their favorites (or least favorites!) and check out the arts and cultural events and activities around Albuquerque. Users can also watch videos about public art and connect to the program and collection via Facebook and Flickr.
Nothing beats visiting public art in person, being able to touch it and experience its scale and setting. However, this app gives residents and visitors the ability to explore, connect and share the artwork in the digital world as well. And in some ways, that makes our collection, and program, that much more public.
*Artist information for header images, clockwise from left: Aluminum Yucca, Gordon Huether, 2003; Cruising San Mateo, Barbara Grygutis, 1991; ABQ Public Art iPhone app; Mestizaje, Emanuel Martinez, 1996